Freedom has come at last for Mehdi Ali, one of the refugees incarcerated in the Park Hotel in the Melbourne suburb of Carlton who were thrust into the spotlight when Novak Djokovic was briefly detained there before the Australian Open in January. Now, after a gruelling nine years in detention, Mehdi is leaving our shores for a new home in the US.
Writing on his Twitter account last night, Mehdi wrote:
Tonight I am free and leaving Australia to start my life in the United States of America. But I won’t be happy until all my friends are released from detention. It’s not freedom until we are all free. Thank you all for your support.
Tonight I am free and leaving Australia to start my life in the United States of America. But I won't be happy until all my friends are get released from detention. It's not freedom until we are all free. Thank you all for your support.
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— Mehdi Ali (@MehdiAli98) March 3, 2022
Only last week, Mehdi, writing in The Saturday Paper, spoke of the anguish experienced every time others were released from detention and he was not.
“I said my goodbye to friends … and they went out of the gates of hell called ‘indefinite detention’. Terrible silence filled the space in this hell where we remained.
“Disillusioned and disturbing thoughts and feelings filled the hearts and minds of the cage dwellers. During the past nine years, I witnessed dozens of times like these two nights of waiting. There have been hundreds of days like that day when my friends got their freedom. Thousands of people who came by boat after July 19, 2013, were released. Onshore, there are only dozens of us left without a clear explanation.”
Tim Costello, who participated in the Freedom Cage protest outside Victoria Hotel last month (Let these people go – Eternity News), wrote on Mehdi Ali’s Twitter:
“Good to know you are free. You have been such a clear voice against the unnecessary cruelty of detention. I wish you all the best for your life in the US.”
Alicia Payne, MP, the Federal Member for Canberra, addressed the House of Representatives about Mehdi Ali’s nine years of detention yesterday.
“He’s been kept in detention since his arrival in 2013 – when he was only 15 years old.”
A delighted Ms Payne expressed her delight on Mehdi’s Twitter feed along with many other Australians, including journalists.
“Wonderful news!” she wrote. “Wishing you all the best. Deeply ashamed of how our country has treated you.”